Curveball 2.0: All About The Flow

by Russell S. Glowatz

Traveling down a big river this weekend with a group of amazing people really set the theme. Pondering large things and small, we discussed the river…the water…the flow. Why it speeds up in some places, why it slows down in others, when there’s rapids and when there’s not. We determined the driving force for all of it is flow. It’s all flow.

From the forming of the Grand Canyon to our synapses burning, we all were created by countless different factors converging and after some bad times, and more times good, there we were. The flow followed the natural order and the result was US. And now flow guides every aspect of our lives; all of us, even non-sentient things. But we have one choice: do we surrender to the flow, or do we fight it?

Like Salmon bracing against the tide, we all go against the flow sometimes. It’s in our basic nature to do so. But more often than not, despite circumstances or because of them, we surrender to the flow and everything’s in its right place. This weekend had its fair share of trials and tribulations with emotions running high, but when we surrendered…in those sweet sweet moments, it was pure bliss. And slowly but surely everything became right, and we just held tight.

-Sitting beside the Delaware River, more or less content, watching the fire die down. 8/18/18

And then after all was said and done, I felt a longing for something more. I needed a therapy session stat. Recalling that Peter Shapiro opened up his venues this weekend to displaced Phish fans, I popped onto the Brooklyn Bowl website. Sure enough a screening of Clifford Ball was going down. So after a grueling day of ten hours packing, traveling, and unpacking, I hopped into my car for the hour ride to Brooklyn. I’m so glad you all were there! Phans from all walks of life basking in the glow of bowling, beer, and Phish. We laughed, we danced, we raged, we cried. Beautiful closure to an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend. And it almost for a moments time felt like a real Phish show!

I love this community, all of you, with every fiber of my being. Together we’ve been through something truly intense this weekend. We surrendered to the best of our ability and maintained the flow of our lives. I think we will all be stronger for it in the end. See you on yonder with brighter days ahead!

-Sitting at home on Long Island, feeling optimistic knowing we’re all safe and sound, and will be together again real soon. 8/20/18

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The Night Before A Phish Run: Reflections on the Final Chapter of Summer Tour

by Russell S. Glowatz

The night before any of my many Phish runs have been adrenaline filled. Full of expectation, gathering of essential staples, packing, making sure my tickets are in tow, etcetera ad nauseam. As I sit here listening to rockin’ good tunes in preparation for what are sure to be a handful of blissed out days and nights, I am attempting to take one step back – one moment from my day to ponder and remember what IT is all about – the deeper meaning behind this band and community that keeps us all so engaged year after year.

For most of us it started with the music. Some were unknowingly catapulted onto our soul planet as they were dragged to their first show. Unbeknownst to them, that show served as a catalyst for a life changing journey. Whether they knew it or not, through the exploratory jams, blissful peaks, and dark and dirty valleys, they discovered meditation through music – a healing phenomenon that adds years to one’s life and often results in incessant smiling for days afterwards. Synchronous happenings began to occur. New phriends and loved ones seemed to materialize out of thin air. All of a sudden that newbie dragged to their first show found themselves at home.

And that’s what Phish is to me: Home. A home that’s open 24/7 all year round, even outside of shows or venues. A place where we can be our truest selves – our best selves. A form of escape from the monotony that daily existence often entails. So we save our pennies for someday, scrimp and get our thrift on waiting for the moment when that New Year’s run gets announced, or the next summer tour, festival, or exotic destination event. But it’s never really about the destination – rather the journey. And when that journey reaches its culmination, we reflect, “was the juice really worth the squeeze?” Always.

So as this multilayered, multifaceted, majestically constructed home is indeed where our heart is, like any other home it requires regular maintenance. How can we make it better? How can we keep it as awesome as it is? No home is perfect – there’s always room for modification or improvement. And with self awareness, community wide reflection, and a little bit of elbow grease, we can make this place shine, as it almost always has.

After a few exceptionally disappointing events that occurred early this summer tour, I already see improvements taking effect. Whether it’s Phans for Racial Equality addressing the racially motivated incidents at the Gorge with the band and fans, GrooveSafe raising awareness about the despicable reality of sexual assaults occurring at shows, or Green Crew and the community making concerted efforts to lower our carbon footprint we often leave in our wake, good things are happening all over Phish land. These groups have been working hard to make an impact long before this summer, however we need them now more than ever. Thank you for being here, and being you!

So as we embark on the final chapter of this summer tour, I feel immense anticipation for the joyous rituals and communion with friends and family that are about to take place. I’m also hyper aware of what I’m bringing to the table to not only help our scene to survive, but thrive for many years to come. Picking up after myself, not throwing my cigarette butts on the ground, and looking after any fellow phan in need is of paramount importance, next to getting my groove on and soaking in the serenity that the days to come will surely manifest.

Phish is my therapy – a conduit to being truly present in the moment. This community is medicinal – together we make a spiritual elixir that’s revives the soul. This in my mind is something worthy of protection and vigilance. Nobody fucks with my Phish – if you do, you’re gonna hear about it! So stay safe out there everyone, satisfy your souls, and let’s get this show on the road!

Copyright © 2018 Stand For Jam™️

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Bob Weir Attends Grammy’s While Other Notable Scene Celebrity Boycotts (Photos)

While countless jam band fans boycotted the Grammy’s last night in an annual protest of an award show that’s viewed as a travesty by many, several Deadheads made haste to turn on CBS at showtime after word spread on social media that Bob Weir was in attendance. With Long Strange Trip nominated for ‘Best Music Film,’ a dapper looking Bob could be found sitting pretty on the floor amongst a star studded audience. What ensued was an impromptu game of “Where’s Bobby?: Grammy’s Edition.”

You can relive all of the hysteria and hullabaloo and play Where’s Bobby? using the screenshots above and at the bottom of page.

• In other news, HQ host, self-styled Phish phan and jam band acolyte, Scott Rogowsky, maintained his twenty year boycott of the Grammy’s, namely due to The String Cheese Incident not receiving an award in all those years. Despite his fevered protestations, he got down to the nitty gritty, getting the daily 9pm HQ show on the road.

Don’t know what HQ is yet? Find everything you need to know about the Phish reference-filled pocket-sized gameshow here.

More Where’s Bobby?:

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WIN A Pair of Tickets to RED ROSES, GREEN GOLD! A New Musical Featuring the Songs of Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter!


Who doesn’t love a good musical? Mixed with the melodies and lyrics of the supernatural songwriting squad of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, RED ROSES, GREEN GOLD has all the ingredients for a musical full of magic and merriment. With longtime family keyboardist, Jeff Chimenti, tasked with musical supervision and arrangement, plus additional music contributions by Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann, this storied canon and legacy could not possibly be in better hands.

A comedy set in 1920’s Cumberland, RED ROSES, GREEN GOLD tells the outlandish tale of a family of swindlers led by a patriarch named Jackson Jones. The majority of songs are drawn from the duo of seminal albums, American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead. And with a special attention to Deadhead attendees, “STAND UP & BOOGIE DOWN Seating” is available.

Performances began on October 11th, and the official opening is fast approaching on October 29th at the Minetta Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village, New York City. Head to RedRosesGreenGold.com for tickets and further information, but first…

The folks running the show were kind enough to offer Stand For Jam a pair of vouchers for a ticket giveaway contest! If you win, you will be able to request a free pair of tickets for the date you want to attend RED ROSES, GREEN GOLD.

TO ENTER:
-Head to Facebook and “Like” the Stand For Jam page.

-“Comment” under this Facebook post, or at the end of this article, with your favorite Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter song.

“Tag” a friend under this Facebook post to increase your chances of winning.

***A winner will be randomly selected and announced after November 3, 2017!!!***

If luck was not on your side in this contest, we have a consolation prize! Use limited-time discount code “FRNFAM” for up to 35% off your ticket purchase at RedRosesGreenGold.com.

Copyright © 2017 Stand For Jam™️

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Kindred Spirits: Anders Osborne & Jackie Greene ‘Tourgether’ – The Space At Westbury – 10/20/2017 – (Review & Videos)

Photo Credit: Jah Abrams
by Russell S. Glowatz

As a Deadhead with an appreciation for the vast musical influences that the members of the Grateful Dead have drawn from over their storied careers, I would like to think I am as musically open minded as it gets. Yet time and time again I find myself reaching for an old show, or my beat-up vinyl copy of American Beauty, over another artist’s album. They say awareness is the first step to combatting a problem, and I am oh so aware of my inclination to stick to what I know – which makes the ever-expanding Grateful Dead family of artists, in the years since Jerry Garcia passed, such a helpful phenomenon. Over the years, I’ve become versed in the exceptional stylings of Jackie Greene as he’s traversed Deadosphere – and through his work with Phil Lesh, and others in the jam band world, Anders Osborne‘s impeccable reputation precedes himself. Yet while walking into The Space At Westbury this past Friday, my knowledge of these two talent’s original work was still limited. 

So when heading through the doors of the recently and immaculately restored Tudor style auditorium, minimal expectations were had other than the hope for good tunes and a desire for a Grateful Dead cover or two. Those paltry expectations were immediately met, and immeasurably exceeded as soon as Anders & Jackie strapped in for what would be a euphonious ninety-minute acoustic escapade. Timing is everything, and while I missed the opening stanza by Cris Jacobs, it seemed as if they were waiting for my party’s arrival, as in only a moment after scurrying to our fifth-row seats, the houselights dimmed and the main event began. And in a fateful turn, Cris Jacobs joined Anders and Jackie on a few tunes, showcasing his commensurate skills on the acoustic guitar and conveying the very reason he was chosen as an opening act for this tour.

Photo Credit: Jah Abrams

From the first notes strummed, it was readily apparent that the show’s billing as “sitting around, singing songs – an acoustic evening” did not mean it would be a mellow evening as these two musical troubadours emerged on stage with an air of vigor and vibrancy – and they hardly sat around, aside from a few turns Jackie took behind the keys. While Anders and Jackie shared the stage for a number of unplugged shows earlier this year, the chemistry exhibited between these two poetic players was palpable on an otherworldly level. An attendee remarked at show’s end that he has “heard both artists solo – nothing compares to the chemistry that they put forward together.” Kindred spirits bound through musical mastery, the camaraderie displayed onstage is seldom present even in players that have toured together for years, yet these two embodied that quality with ease. 


Through their set, Anders and Jackie took turns taking lead on their own original tunes. From Anders’ laying his soul to bare on the contemplative “Burning Up Slowly,” or the heart tugging ballad “I Need You,” to the boys (including Cris Jacobs) trading licks on the feel-good anthem “Lafayette,” Anders’ tunes ran the gamut and evoked emotional responses from the audience all across the spectrum. And Jackie’s soulful songs did much the same – from the down to earth “I Don’t Live In A Dream,” to the folksy “Tupelo,” Jackie showcased his versatile skills, from impeccable songwriter, to full-throated vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. His substantive take on the gospel of Blind Willie Johnson with “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” transformed the venue to another time, another place, and left audience members to ponder their own personal plight towards the metaphorical fork in the road between salvation and damnation. In the end, we finally got our Grateful Dead tribute to boot. As Cris Jacobs traversed the stage once more, the trio busted out a raucous version of “New Speedway Boogie,” and mid-verse, in the midst of an audience singalong, Jackie proclaimed, “fuckin’ Deadheads everywhere!” Well ain’t that the truth.  

As with the Grateful Dead, these two Princes of Americana channel the very best of the American musical landscape into their own special blend of awesomeness. With a respect towards tradition, and an aim towards innovation and originality, there’s nothing like catching these guys in the flesh. If Jackie is the soul of this ensemble, then Anders is the heartbeat, as each brought their singularly extraordinary talents into play, and manifested an unparalleled symbiotic scene. With jokes and quick witticisms in between songs, they materialized an atmosphere of lightheartedness and levity making for a night of seamless serenity and sonic sorcery. These songsmiths continue onwards with ‘Tourgether 2017’ and have several more dates on the horizon. Enjoy the below videos – yet they are only an amuse-bouche – you’ll have to catch the show for the main course.

“Does this white light make me look fat? Good I’ve been trying to gain a couple pounds!” – Anders Osborne 

“Lafayette” – Anders Osborne (video by bklynwmn)

“I Don’t Live In A Dream” – Jackie Greene

“Nobody’s Fault But Mine” – Blind Willie Johnson Cover

“New Speedway Boogie” – Grateful Dead Cover

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The Day the Music Died: Las Vegas & Tom Petty

Source: Pinterest
by Russell S. Glowatz

Yesterday I woke up to news alerts on my phone – another shooting, what else is new? While relatively numb to this uniquely American phenomenon, this mass tragedy was immensely different – music festival goers were violently gunned down in Las Vegas. This one hit close to home – music was under assault. Thinking the day couldn’t possibly get worse, the news came through that Tom Petty was found in cardiac arrest and unresponsive – again thinking the day couldn’t possibly get worse, false reports of his death came through the airwaves spiraling Monday into a foggy haze of misinformation. While reports of his death were premature, he would later slip this mortal coil and join the likes of his Traveling Wilburys compatriots, Roy Orbison and George Harrison. 

I cannot help but think of the day George Harrison passed away. Too young, too soon, dreariness draped that otherwise serene fall afternoon. Yesterday was similarly beautiful and became immensely ickier – the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, coupled with the death of a Mount Rushmore level rock icon, brought us to the precipice of emotional chaos – then our hearts were collectively thrown in a blender, muddied with media misinformation. Now with the knowledge of what actually occurred, America sits in mourning. Music was burned on both ends of the candle yesterday – the audience attacked, and a performer taken down. 

The day the music died 2.0 – was this what fans felt like that fateful moment discovering the destiny of Buddy, Ritchie, and the Big Bopper? The emotional stew we find ourselves in must have been similar to what was experienced in February of ’59. Yet they survived, and so will we – and the music never really died at all, did it? Within a few short years, the rock ‘n’ roll scene thrived like never before, as will the festival scene, and the music scene at large right now. I have a feeling we won’t miss a beat – however the cold harsh reality now exists that music festivals, concerts, and gatherings are now active targets of terrorism, domestic or otherwise.  

Vigilance is now necessary – our favorite escape from the mediocrity of daily existence has been tarnished by the violence of the outside world. How we go about making our scene safe for fans and performers alike at outdoor music events is very much above my pay grade, yet I’m sure the right people are already working on plans. Hopefully they strike a proper balance between security and serenity.  

One way or another, the show must go on, and it will go on. In memoriam of Tom Petty and festival goers gunned down, tribute concerts and events are already being planned – and coincidentally one event that was already in play will now be a fitting memorial. Tom Petty’s music will radiate brightly across the world as we come to terms with these monumental losses. Precautions will be taken, and our escape from the day-to-day will be upheld. Music was violated, yet music will be the very thing that heals us all. “One way or another, this darkness got to give,” and as Mickey Hart poignantly said in response to the Paris attacks on the Bataclan and elsewhere, nearly two years ago, “music is the best healing agent we know.” Music is our lifeblood, one of our quintessential reasons for being, and it can never be silenced.  

 

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Vibrating With Love, Light & Phish – The Baker’s Dozen Revisited

The Love is in The Journey, and the Juice Was Worth the Squeeze

Screenshot via LivePhish – 8/6/17 – Glaze
by Russell S. Glowatz

It all began with a chance encounter with Sam Cutler at the Joe Russo’s Almost Dead show on July 21, 2017. An epic weekend was sprawled out before me, beginning with JRAD, before catapulting head first into The Baker’s Dozen on night two – strawberry donut night. Sam was extremely gracious – we discussed his part in Long Strange Trip, and he took a moment to take a photograph. I was enamored by the meeting, and thought it to be a good omen setting out upon my musical journey. Little did I know that only a few days later, Sam would head to a Phish show as well, proceeding to sodomize our favorite band in a scathing Facebook review. 

The encounter and subsequent “eff you” he laid out in glorious fashion on the internet, highlights the intricate web that’s often weaved when seeing Phish. That photo of us was first a point of pride, yet quickly became a moment of chagrin before swiftly transcending into the hilarious heirloom it currently remains. It’s a mix of kismet and karma, with a dash of humor, and the joke is always on us! Over the course of The Baker’s Dozen, Phish enthralled us with what they do best – a fusion of supreme song, epic jams, and harmonious humor running the gamut from donut themes, to transcendent “Lawn Boy” improvisation. As a clan we pick up on the synchronicity and jocularity, throw it back in the bands face, only for them to flip it back on us. 

Is This Still Lawn Boy? via Etsy.com
Via LivePhish webcast – Intermission – 8/4/17 – Lemon

Recently laid off, setting out upon the world of donuts was going to be a frugal affair by necessity. Budget and logistics permitting, I would be lucky to attend two of these shows – maybe three if the donut-shaped universe was on my side. Little did I know that when all was said and done, I’d have the pleasure to experience seven glorious Baker’s Dozen performances in person, with a few more on the couch to boot – and through all of this, I still had a few bucks in the bank at the end of session. It was the most pleasant surprise, and served as a stupendous silver lining atop of my newfound unemployment.

Perched at my seat in the riser section for night two, my first foray into a world that runs on dunkin’, a Phan walked by and handed me a fresh pack of pocket tissues – He said “You’re gonna need these bro – You’re gonna cry tonight!” While tears never materialized (until “On The Road Again” of course) , I certainly cried “Joy” on the inside, and this portable pack of tissues came in handy for the entirety of the run. Every night I carried those tissues in my pocket, and nearly every night they were used by myself or a Phan in need nearby. And when the mid-run Baker’s Dozen wook flu hit me like a bat out of hell, the tissues were there to soothe my soul. Thank you tissue man, not only for gifting me extremely handy show gear, but for reminding me that with the right attitude, you will always get what you need when you need it, if you give what you can when you can.  

Via LivePhish webcast – Intermission – 8/4/17 – Lemon

The law of attraction on steroids is often what many experience at shows and festivals, and this small yet relevant tissue saga serves to highlight that phenomenon. Little karmic anomalies dotted my whole run at YEMSG, from buying a bar stool ticket by accident on Jam night (turned out to be the best mistake ever!) to getting a miracle ticket on Powder night. That miracle ticket led me to taking in a show with one of my oldest friends – we haven’t been at Phish together since Jones Beach on the reunion tour, so it was a special moment to say the least – we partied like it was 2009. Showing up on Maple night with the expectation of a Jerry song (since it was his 75th birthday) – and getting a Drums & Space nod mid “46 Days” – plus a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” encore instead – reminded me to never have expectations at a Phish show. When I showed up with zero expectations the next night to Holes, I was rewarded with one of the greatest shows of my lifetime. With positivity and a heightened karmic awareness, synchronicity is boundless – and as a collective we achieved something otherworldly at The Baker’s Dozen – not everyone in the building felt it – yet most did – Lift off!

Holes – 7/2/17

When it comes down to it, we all know it’s more than just a show, just a run, or just a festival – this is a community, our community, a lifestyle we choose to live and love. The Baker’s Dozen embodied the goodness that the Phish community offers in the most magnificent way. We laughed, we danced, we cried, we sang. We were stupefied, awestruck, amazed, and blazed. We made new phriends, met up with old compatriots, and ran into folks we never thought we’d see again. We tried new things, like Section 119 Spicy Chicken Sandwiches, or “Strawberry Letter 23” – And we basked in the familiarity of old things, like a favorite Phish t-shirt, Trey’s spaced guitar face, and the Meatstick Dance. This was more than a residency of shows – this was a fleeting love affair with a band beyond description and its eclectic followers. The feeling will certainly be revisited at shows in the future, yet it will be different by then – a different time, a different space, a different energy. 

If one could bottle the dynamism of The Baker’s Dozen and distribute it far and wide, it wouldn’t be The Baker’s Dozen anymore. Just like everyone that experienced The Great Went, Big Cypress, Lemonwheel, or IT, this run slipped through our fingers as quickly as it arrived – and that’s the beauty of it! For a meteoric moment in time we experienced a flash in a pan, so bright, so beautiful, so full of boundless love, we’ll take memories of it with us through the rest of our existence. Now it lives in our photographs, videos, the soundboards, and our collective consciousness for eternity. This was a redefining run for Phish – and for me – an array of events that has catapulted my life and creative sensibilities in a new direction. All these weeks later, with a New Year’s extravaganza on the horizon, I’m still buzzing, as I’m sure are many of you.  

Photo Credit – René HuemerPhish From The Road

Love, light, and good vibrations to you all. To the countless new phriends I made at The Dozen, until we meet again – see you for another Garden New Year’s in a few months. Our trip is short to YEMSG reprise – Seventeen in Seventeen! “When you bait the hook with your heart, the [Phish] will always bite.” 

Photo Credit – René HuemerPhish From The Road
Hoodboy is What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by N13

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A Rant on Rage Sticks – aka Festival Totems 

 

Source: Pinterest
by Russell S. Glowatz

This past weekend Pretty Lights put on an episodic festival in New Hampshire. In between sets, crew members were sent out to move a totem wielding fan from the front of the stage to the side, so lighting folks could do their job without an unobstructed view. Soon after, Pretty Lights’ lighting designer, LazerShark, worked up an anti-totem image to plaster on the screen at the back the stage. LazerShark was simply poking fun – His later post about the incident metes that out.

According to Live For Live Music, after the incident LazerShark commented: “Just to be clear since some people think it’s their right to be an inconsiderate douche. Your right to “self-expression” has not been banned at our shows. We simply just want both our crew and our audience to be able to enjoy the show how they intended. We could have simply confiscated this stupid jellyfish [totem] but instead we decided to have a little fun and prove a very simple point. Stand to the side dummies. Or I’m coming to your job with a giant sign that says fuck you and you can explain to your boss why some guy is interfering with your work.” 

Source: Live For Live Music

I’m going to take LazerShark’s sentiment to the next level. Ban those fucking rage rods altogether. There’s a thousand ways to express yourself at a festival without getting up in people’s faces. You can sing, dance, wear crazy clothing, go nude, paint your face, wear no makeup at all, carry around a super heady backpack with all your pins and swag on it, hand out cards to everyone with your favorite inspirational quote, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam. These totems are the epitome of getting up in others’ spaces – If you rock one, your selfishness outweighs your self-expression tenfold.  

Ban those completely inconsiderate “I’m the center of the universe” poles. Friends don’t let friends bring cock sizing rods to festivals. If you have a friend or relative putting together one of these silly spikes, stop them immediately. Break that thing in half! They’ll be pissed at you in the present, but will thank you down the line. Imagine an episode of Intervention, except the only drug your loved one is high on this time is their own ego. 

“But wait, I need my totem to find my friends!” If you seriously need one of these oversized sceptres to find your friends at a fest (in 2017!!!) you should be banned from the grounds, as you’re clearly a danger to others and yourself. If American soldiers could find their comrades in the jungles of Vietnam with a compass and the stars, why can’t you find your buddies in a crowd at a festival – when literally everyone is a walking GPS these days? Oh, you say you left your phone in your car? Cool, then make a meeting spot where you can all gather at a specific time! It’s really simple shit we’re talking about here.  Being considerate of staff and your fellow festival goers, I would presume is paramount for most people attending such events. The rage stick violates these central tenets. If one walks around a fest with such an unwieldy staff, you’re breaking the Golden Rule without even knowing it.  

Sure, festivals are the last Wild West – A place to break free from the confines of meager existence to celebrate life to the fullest. But are rage sticks really necessary to rage life to the fullest?! Hell no! Party, get schwilly (do people still say schwilly?), get down, get dirty, and express yourself to your heart’s desire, just leave your beanstalk at home (or at least your campsite). It’s simple. And if you’re seriously having issues giving up your Napoleon Complex pole, therapy might be a good outlet. End rant.  

 

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Phish Just Dropped The Sweetest New Years Gag – Shana Tovah!

by Russell S. Glowatz

L’shana Tovah Tikateyvu! Phish does what they do best, and played a silly awesome joke on us with the announcement of New Year’s Run 2017 on the eve of the Jewish new year. Rosh Hashanah and 5778 will start off with a bang thanks to Phish. As half the band falls squarely in the Jewish camp, the nuance of announcing the run on this date may fly over some Phans heads, but not this Hebrew fella here. While I never thought it possible, my love for this band just jumped up a notch. Was this a coincidence? Maybe. Was it a planned, yet subtle joke? Likely. These guys rock the gags almost as well as their instruments – And it looks like we might get that 2017 Avenu Malkenu after all!

While this was the worst kept secret in the Phishaverse since the very end of The Baker’s Dozen, it’s now official and feels oh so sweet. Seventeen shows in 2017 is happening – Even Billy Joel can’t compete with a record run like this. When Phish is all said and done, they will have played 56 shows at Madison Square Garden, since their debut at the World’s Most Famous Arena on December 30, 1994.  

For the 2017 New Year’s extravaganza, we are graced with a perfect show weekend, as New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday – And a Thursday to Sunday News Year’s Run falls in that magic sweet spot. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the only word that comes to mind as thoughts turn towards New Year’s in every way imaginable. Into The Garden we go again for another Phish pageant of perfection! 

Down to the details – The lottery pre-sale is already underway via Phish Tickets, and ends on Monday October 2, at 10 a.m. EST. Public on-sale for all the shows are scheduled for Friday October 6, at 12 p.m. EST. A limited number of 4-day passes are available. The rest of the brass tacks are available via the above link. Much luck to all on their quest for golden tickets!

Apples & honey, challah french toast, and Phish…ohhh myyyyy! Love and light to all of you in the New Year!

Copyright © 2017 Stand For Jam™️

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Why Do Phish Phans Hate Twiddle? In their own words… 

When a Gut Reaction Strikes a Fit of Passion

by Russell S. Glowatz

Lately it occurs to me that a large, or at least excessively vocal sector of Phans hates the up and coming jam act known as Twiddle. The phenomenon confounds me, yet is born out time and time again on Facebook, Twitter, PT, Phish.net, etcetera. Sometimes the chatter is so loud and inundating that these Phish groups should consider a name change. Twiddle Gripers 2017, or Friendly Twiddle Bitchers are names that ring right when peak Twiddle bellyaching is reached.  

“Hate” is a strong word, yet it’s the one most frequently confronted when talking Twiddle with Phans. Since most of these conversations are had on the interweb, a medium that often appeals to our lowest common inclinations, I considered that Phans might have a more nuanced and toned down take on the subject in person. As I set out to discuss all things Twiddle with Phans, live at The Baker’s Dozen this past summer, I had no sense how wrong I’d be proven.  

In his or her natural habitat, the Phan’s hatred for Twiddle is immensely exacerbated. The Phish heads I met outside Madison Square Garden were extremely passionate, did not mince words, and were sometimes intimidating. Apparently for the most ardent of the Twiddle hating Phans, even bringing up the jam band’s name at a Phish show will harsh their vibe – I learned this the hard way.  

When I first arrived at Penn Station on Powder night, I encountered a Phan named Eggz looking for a ticket with his finger held high by the escalators. When I mentioned that I was interviewing Phans before the show, his eyes lit up with interest and excitement. He introduced himself, mentioned that he had to get to all nights of The Baker’s Dozen so he could complete what he called his “baker’s hundozen” (his 113th show would fall on the last night of the run), and he meticulously made certain that I understood “Eggz” was spelled with a “Z.”  

After some small talk I asked if he was into Twiddle. The previously mellow, and somewhat excitable Eggz, quickly morphed into a defensive posture. “Twiddle? Twiddle, brah?! Love my dick relentlessly! Twiddle this and get the fuck outta here!” He abruptly shuffled away, yelling “who’s got my miracle or good deal?!” 

A little bit flustered by my first encounter, I left Penn Station and perched myself under the Darin Shock mural in the main entrance to MSG. Shaking the Eggz experience off, I quickly approached my next subject. Davey Donuts was an English major at SUNY Oneonta, spending the summer before his last year in college on Phish tour. His non-Phan friends gave him his nickname after he profusely and only talked about The Baker’s Dozen since its announcement.

I asked him what he thought of Twiddle. His face immediately transformed from an expression of chill to complete and utter disgust. He bellowed “Twiddle blows! Typical, white, college kid, super cheese, middle class, trust fund baby band.” When I suggested that he essentially described half of Phish’s audience, including himself, he fake lunged at me, scoffed, and scurried away.  

Graphic Credit: twiddlesoundsliketurds.info

Completely verklempt at this point, turning and churning the thoughts in my head, I set my sights on the Pennsy where I could take a load off, take the edge off, and regroup. I struck up a conversation with Katy, whose online handle is Starchild Kind Kat.

When I apprehensively touched upon the elephant in the room, she remarked that she “tried listening to Twiddle once. [She] couldn’t even get through the whole song, Jamflowdude or something? They sounded so derivative. They just plain ripped off Phish, and thought we wouldn’t notice?! Losers!” When I suggested that many would consider imitation a great form of flattery, she said “fuck that,” and walked away with her friends. While scattering, I heard her say to her buddies that “I hope they play a Jerry song tonight!” 

I wasn’t feeling the nuance, I wasn’t feeling the love. As I walked outside, a cool breeze made me think about the situation – At this point I decided to bag this whole endeavor, go inside, get a spicy chicken sandwich, and enjoy the show. After going through security, and double timing it to section 119 before the half off promotion ended, I found an empty table to eat my sandwich in peace. Soon a Phan asked if they could share the spot with me. When I obliged and went to introduce myself, I almost choked on my chicken upon seeing his t-shirt. The shirt had a Phish emblem on it with Twiddle written in the middle. Blown away, I asked my new friend Matty if we could rap about this Twiddle hating Phan phenomenon.  

A fan of both Twiddle and Phish, Matty was down to dish. As a former psychology major at UC Berkeley, he already came up with a few interpersonal theories on the subject. Matty stated “There’s a large sector of Phans that have been teased for years by their Grateful Dead loving counterparts, so now they need a little cousin to pick on – Enter Twiddle.” His second hypothesis centered around the notion that “many Phans see Twiddle as a legitimate threat to Phish’s legacy, and in turn hate them without giving them a real shot. This is purely a mechanism to secure Phish’s survival as The Beatles of the current jam band scene.”  

Pleasantly surprised by Matty’s articulate and well thought through responses, he hit me with one last thought. “Maybe Phans aren’t willing to give Twiddle a real shot because they can’t look passed their nonsensical name. Maybe when folks are so enamored by one band, it becomes hard to open their minds to newer music.” When my eyes wandered sideways pondering Matty’s words, I caught Sam Cutler walking by, powdered donut clenched in one hand, ticket in the other, looking for his seat.  

Soon after, Sam Cutler would go down in inPHamy for his hilariously close-minded rant about his experience catching four Phish songs live. Often I see shades of his rant in Phan conversations about Twiddle. The donut does not fall far from the bakery, and no one really gives a crap about what bands one doesn’t like – Different strokes for different folks. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve had these same conversations with Deadheads about Phish. A pattern is forming.  

This has been (mostly) satire brought to you by Stand For Jam. The sentiment is real – The quotes were inspired by real comments – The interviews did not happen – I did not see Sam Cutler on Powder night, yet ran into him a few days prior at JRAD…and I got my Sec 119 Spicy Chicken Sandwich on Holes night!

 

Copyright © 2017 Stand For Jam™️

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The Brother’s Tapes – Brokedown Palace – Grateful Dead – 10/31/70 – SUNY at Stony Brook – Cassette Tape Video

Photo Credit - imgur: whenthattrainrollsby

Grateful Dead played two shows in the University Gymnasium on the SUNY Stony Brook campus on Halloween 1970. This version of “Brokedown Palace” is from the early show.

A little over two years earlier, in May of 1968, Grateful Dead made their first appearance at “Stoner Brook,” known at the time to be the stonedest campus in the East. The 1968 show was the Grateful Dead’s second ever in the East, and served to be their first paying East Coast gig.

This is Series #2 of the Brother’s Tapes. These tapes were procured from my brother’s cassette tape collection, which was curated on the taper circuit and beyond during the nineties.

There’s something about the sound on these tapes that’s special all their own – warts and all – the crackle, the hiss, the occasional skip (watch out for 2:45 on this tape!). These tapes give you something a digital version never can.

They almost ended up in the trash – And for years they had no purpose – Until now…

 

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Meet Meatstick Girl – An Exclusive Q&A with the Latest Webcast Legend


On the last night of the Dick’s Run and the end of the epic 2017 summer tour, Phish graciously offered us a free webcast so everyone that desired could share in the groove. During Meatstick, I was taking a couple of screenshots, as I sometimes do to create silly content down the line (weird but true). While I was intently focused on catching Trey in the midst of the glory that is the Meatstick Dance, another bright soul popped upon the screen like sunshine after stormy weather. I caught the above photo of this Phan, and quickly worked up a meme in her honor. Since then, she has been collectively dubbed #MeatstickGirl by Phans across Phish nation, as she added a bit of extra glitter to an otherwise energetic rendition of the tune. She has been honored far and wide across the interweb these past days, and deserves every bit of recognition.

Meatstick Girl was the highlight of couch tour for many that evening – Dazzling us with her spot-on execution of the dance, and her euphoric arm pump and freestyle moves, as Trey ripped into a stupendous solo after the choreographed caper was over. She reminded us that at a show we’re all players in the band, as the music plays us. Yet this is far from the first time an enraptured entity from the crowd has gained notoriety through a Phish webcast. As the term “webcast famous” is entering the lexicon of more and more Phans, Meatstick Girl will no doubt go down in the upper echelon of the webcast hall of fame. From the tuned in Nicholas Peter Orr, dubbed #Hoodboy, to the ethereal Nathan Tobey, knighted #StashGuy, and lest not forget the happiest man at The Baker’s Dozen (don’t have a name for this delighted dude), christened #CaspianGuy. All these folks are falling prey to the whims of the webcast gods, and their lives as Phans have been irrevocably altered, certainly in some ways, after their dance with simulcast serendipity.

Is this a good thing, bad thing, or does it fall somewhere in between? Luckily for us, Meatstick Girl has arisen out of the woodwork, and affably accepted a Stand For Jam invitation to participate in a good old-fashioned Question & Answer session. Initially I provided her with ten questions, certainly covering her newfound notoriety, but also encouraging her to dive deep on other issues concerning all things Phish. Then I came up with one last question, turning this epic Q&A all the way up to eleven.

 The full complete Meatstick Girl - Fast forward to 2:26 for the part that made her webcast famous! Thanks to Joel Mazur & Mike Gregory for helping to curate this video!

Introducing (drum roll)………….Heather Craig! Heather wanted to take her time with these questions, felt empowered by the platform, and simply did not want to phone it in. Upon receiving her answers, she commented that “these questions struck many chords with [her] and [her] internal relationship with this magnificent music” – The spirit with which she attacked these queries and her articulately animated answers m̶e̶a̶t̶ mete that out…

Stand For Jam (SFJ): How does if feel to be webcast famous? Did you have any sense the camera was trained on you at that moment?

Heather Craig (HC): I had no idea the camera was on me, but when you’re down there, you always know there’s a possibility of being seen. I think that’s one of the great things Phish gives us all – the ability to be truly ourselves even when presented with the possibility of being observed by hundreds of thousands, whether it’s on the webcast or in the thick of the crowd. What we’re talking about is one of the most terrifying feelings – putting your freest self out into the world without any sort of reassurance of being accepted, but I feel that as long as you’re accepting of yourself, you’re open for whatever the moment asks of you. There’s this internal rhetorical question constantly being asked when I’m at shows: Can you let go of everything that’s holding you back and simply be with us right here for this small moment in time?

SFJ: With Hoodboy, Stash Guy, Caspian Guy, and now you, Meatstick Girl, how do you feel about Phans picking up on these webcast moments, making memes and making folks Phish famous? Is this an invasion of privacy? Where do you think the line should be drawn or if there should be a line at all?

HC: “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”

I feel if happiness comes from making these memes, I’m all about it! Once the moment was over, it became etched in time and unchangeable. It’s no longer who I am – it’s who I was, a past moment. I personally don’t feel that it is an invasion of privacy. If I were a more reserved person who still wanted to be close to the source within the first 5 rows of the stage, I feel actions could be taken to ensure you don’t end up on the screen. One way could be to walk up before the show starts and introduce yourself to the staff and ask them nicely to not record you, or you could always wear a hat or get silly and rock a handmade mask to cover your face. If you don’t mind being further from the stage, then usually you can have a more private experience.

SFJ: How many Meatsticks have you experienced live? When was your first Meatstick? What does it take to master the Meatstick, as you have done? What’s your secret?

HC: I’ve experienced Meatstick live 9 times (9 times? 9 times.) *Bueller, Bueller* 😛 My first one was at Dick’s 8/31/12, when they spelled Fuck Your Face, an unbelievable show to recall! Whew! Anyway, I was shown the dance by a friend but never practiced it before going to the show. I remember standing in the crowd, around Page Side soundboard area, and I was singing along and a guy next to me says, “Nice! You know the Japanese lyrics, but do you know the dance?!” I think he then tried to teach me, but suffice to say, we both needed practice. Fast forward through a few years of taking out the Meatstick to Grand Prairie 10/25/16 where I followed Mike’s choreography, and from that moment the Meatstick dance became a movement my body would know how to recreate. I’m a student who has a great teacher. The secret to many things is silliness, and surrender truly is the trick. Phish has given me that insight, and I try to hold on (but never too tight) to that intention every time I walk away from one of their shows. So lighten up, and bury the Meatstick! 🙂

SFJ: In that moment, what were you thinking, if anything at all? Phish obviously brings you immense joy – What is it about this band and community that takes you to that point of euphoria?

HC: What I’m concentrating on at Phish shows is connectivity – less of a single thought and more of an emptying of mind, expectation, restraint, and turning my attention to everything I can soak up out of every little moment. Becoming a sponge or empty vessel – I let the music course through me, allowing it to undo any tensions I have mentally, physically, or emotionally. They’re my connection to source, a connection to my Self. Each passing year we all undergo trauma to the mind, body, and soul – kinks that need to be worked out through our own preferred method, and Phish is my way of release. The community of Phans is, of course, a beautiful support system as well that feeds my flame. I’ve gone to many shows alone and have felt completely at home, safe, and loved in a crowd of strangers. To then dance with them for 3 hours forms a bond that is hard to match elsewhere. Then to have all these people you’ve met and befriended across the nation, it’s like starting a fire from tinder pieces.

Alpine 2015, Night Two, Lot. The Harry Ladies (They really wanted a Harry Hood that night, and in their excited state kept saying "Haaaaarryyyy, Haaaarrrryyy!" in Heather's ear)

SFJ: When, where, and how did your love affair with Phish start?

HC: A friend gave me a copy of Island Tour ’98 and said with a smile, “To get you hooked.” Not thinking much of it, I gave it a listen on my way to work. 4/2/98 Stash 13:22 made my eyes water and ears fall in love. The contrast of the chaos to the bliss was too easy for me to relate to. I didn’t want to leave my car. I didn’t want to go in to work, and I like my job! I wanted to sit there and listen to them for another moment…and another…and another… I was enchanted. After that, I listened to everything I could get my hands on – live and recorded – and started attending shows as often as possible. “Was it for this my life I sought?” 💓

SFJ: As a community, I’d say we’re nine parts love & light, and one-part stuff that’s troubling. Whether from the nitrous scene, to tarpers, GA etiquette, or the rising awareness of female Phan harassment, as a Phan yourself, is there any particular trend that concerns you in the Phishaverse today? Any ideas on how to rectify the issue(s), if there’s any issue(s) at all?

HC: This is an unfolding view of what happens when people are set free. It’s difficult to find the balance when people have different moral codes within that freedom. Without paying close attention, greed, overindulgence, and disrespect of all kinds seeps its way in through unseen cracks and decides to stick around for a while beleaguering equilibrium. What each of us can do to rectify these happenings is to observe the choices we each make and ask our freest selves within us if this is the environment we are truly wanting to foster. In regards to sexual harassment at shows, when it involves another person’s safety and comfort, being courageous and speaking up when we see disrespectful behavior around us is a huge step we can take and a responsibility we all have. We can’t force a change, all we can do is lead by example towards a more healthy, loving, and wholesome community.

SFJ: What’s your favorite thing about Phish?

HC: My favorite thing about Phish is how they bring hundreds of thousands of people together for a live experience and how they concentrate our attention for extended periods of time. For many of us, they are a form of meditation to guide us to our individual interpretation of freedom and happiness, so we can take that freedom and happiness and spread it around when we leave the shows. We take them and their lessons with us, that is an absolutely incredible accomplishment! It’s how minds are opened, it’s how change becomes workable.

SFJ: If you could ask one band member one question, who and what would it be?

HC: Trey, may I live in your pocket?

Seriously though, the band has been answering many of my unspoken questions since I began to pay attention – most of the questions came in forms I wouldn’t know how to pose succinctly or verbally, but I feel there’s already a healthy conversation that happens between artist and audience/audience member.

Heather at Dick's '16 - Swingin' Dick's - rocking super appropriate head gear! - Photo Credit: Michael Howard

SFJ: Request time: Name a song you’ve been chasing, but have never gotten?

HC: Bye Bye Foot or Shafty. There are so many I haven’t caught yet that I would love to hear live, but I know each one comes in its own time and place and if you go around expecting and wishing, you may miss many magical moments being gifted to you right then.

SFJ: If you could sum up this whole Meatstick Girl experience in three words and/or a phrase, what would they be?

HC:

Three words: “Shocks my brain!”

Phrase: After Meatstick, you chop wood and carry water.

SFJ: Any causes or charities close to your heart that you’d like to give a shout out?

HC:

🐠

So other than the happenstance of being caught on camera, what makes Meatstick Girl and her webcast cohorts so unique? I believe we see ourselves in these isolated moments, and in turn make these folks Phish famous to celebrate US! For those that get it, we have all been enraptured in the frenzied excitement of a Meatstick Girl moment, or worn the face of stupefied awe while a song was peaking, just like Hood Boy. Heather framed it best when she quoted The Beatles verse above – “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” Trey told us “The Walrus was Jimmy,” yet perhaps he was really saying the Walrus is us all!

Before she was Meatstick Girl - Heather in all her glory soaking in the beauty that is TAB at Red Rocks - 5/31/17 - Photo Credit: Miles Chrisinger

Thank you to Heather Craig, aka Meatstick Girl, for wholeheartedly throwing yourself into this Q&A! You’ve not only awed us with your dancing, but now your prose.

Answers by Heather Craig, 
Questions & Paragraphs by Russell S. Glowatz

 

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It Ain’t Love & Light All The Time: Making GA Better At Phish

by Russell S. Glowatz

Some people don’t think there is a problem. Other people believe it’s a small problem. Then there’s the folks that are sure the whole thing is blown out of proportion. Then there are the cats that just don’t care. GA issues, Phamily. This writer believes they are real, and has heard enough firsthand accounts from people on Facebook, in personal discussion, and has seen enough to know something’s awry. Maybe things have been the way they are for a long time, or throughout the entire history of Phish shows with general admission sections. Yet lately, as the chatter increases to such immense levels, it might get to the point where those in charge have no choice but to change it up.

Recently I wrote an article, Wilson, We Have A Problem: Ruminations on the Rumble at Dicks – It’s Only a Symptom, about entitlement and privilege in GA. I feel like I made a lot of good points, some people say bad points, yet needless to say through publishing that piece I’ve come to learn how provocative the subject remains with passion abound on all sides. One thing I failed to do in that previous piece was to provide any solutions. Now I got one. Before I dive in, I don’t pertain to be any expert on the workings of crowd control at concerts. I’m just a Phan like you that has an idea that could alleviate some (some being the opportune word) of the issues surrounding privilege and congestion in GA.

Firstly, rail riders will be pissed at my idea, and maybe me too, merely for presenting my opinion. Secondly, I cannot please everyone with what I say and I know that going in (still gonna say it though). Lastly, many have mentioned that the only true solution to the woes in GA is to go fully back to assigned seating on the floor. I believe there’s another solution that could mitigate many issues while saving our precious GA space to boot. Whether or not this is a viable solution, my hope is to stir constructive discussion on the topic. Maybe one of you has a major answer sitting on the tip of your tongue. Maybe by voicing it in a positive and nuanced way, someone that can do something about it will hear you.

So my idea is simple: Create a separate “pit” section at the front of GA (say roughly 10 rows-ish back). When all GA ticket holders enter the show, some will be randomly awarded special bracelets for the pit. One bracelet type will be for the first set, and another for the second. The pit will be cleared at set break to allow set two bracelet holders a chance to get up front. Adding to that, the tarp and blanket ban should stay in effect.

I wholeheartedly see this as a way to diffuse much of the craziness happening towards the front of GA, and also completely disband this kind of privileged group at the front of the stage. To the rail riders, I understand you put in the time and wait long hours, and under the current regime, you deserve your spaces. You work for them! Yet it just seems so stale when the people upfront contend to more or less know everyone that’s usually up there. It seems, even self admittedly, that the crowd more or less stays similar through entire tours (or entire legs of tours). Then there’s the other crowd of people who think it’s okay to push all the way up to the front when that area is already occupied. This Pit concept would alleviate the issues and pressure coming from both sides of the coin.

I think it’s high time to try something new! Too many negative reports coming from the front of GA. With the aforementioned idea (or one similar to it) we also will not lose GA to assigned seating, yet might just ameliorate the issue. #My2Cents

UPDATE: I’ve been alerted to a similar idea that’s already in play at Bruce Springsteen shows…and it’s been working!

You can find a link to the Boss’ Pit/GA policy here.

Thanks to Jason Goldstein & Paul Copoulos for pointing this out!

© Stand For Jam, 2017.

 

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Preview: David Bryan & Friends – The Best Kept Secret In Deadhead Land – American Beauty NYC – 9/7/2017

by Russell S. Glowatz

There are countless Grateful Dead cover bands across these great United States taking their own spin on the GD canon, yet when it comes to David Bryan & Friends, the phrase “cover band” is a dirty term. Surely, they play Grateful Dead songs, but replication is nary the objective. They are a Re-creation Band, taking these timeless tunes, and transforming them into their otherworldly own.

What JRAD is to a face melting, brain busting, interpretation of the Grateful Dead canon, David Bryan & Friends is the soothing soulful mellow opposing side of that same coin. Not to say you won’t get your groove on at a David Bryan show, for you no doubt will (bring your dancing shoes!). But painstaking attention to arrangement, and vocal virtuosity sets them widely apart from your dime a dozen GD tribute act.

Specifically, shining centerstage is the angelic voice of the troupe’s namesake. David’s vocals are soul shattering and will tug at your heartstrings as you join the band on their melodious migration through the Grateful Dead songbook. He is joined by a hand selected ensemble of impeccable vocalists (male & female) and distinguished musicians that are tried and true in their own right.

Kenny Brooks (Ratdog) on saxophone with David Bryan & Friends

One particular player of note is Kenny Brooks, longtime saxophonist of Bob Weir’s Ratdog. Another is the badass bassist Chris Crosby (Danke Baby), and as brother of The Terrapin Family Band keyman, Jason Crosby, all things Grateful Dead runs through this guy’s veins. It’s truly a GD family affair in this ensemble. Long Island’s own guitar virtuoso, Steve Urban (Fields Of Dreams), is also in company, adding his own special style to the mix. And as a super special fill-in, Bill Bonacci (Stella Blue’s Band) will be shredding the strings on lead guitar. Dave was not fooling around when putting together this crew, and attendance at his upcoming American Beauty NYC shindig is essentially mandatory for any self-respecting Deadhead, or true-blue music lover.

In only a few short days, you too can experience the musical mysticism of a live David Bryan & Friends show. They will lay it all out on the stage at American Beauty on this Thursday, September 7th (Doors @ 8pm). If you find yourself within a 50-mile radius of the New York Metropolitan Area, you’d frankly be a fool not to check these masters of melody out. I can guarantee with wholehearted confidence that this will merely be your first foray into David’s world, as his alluring illuminations of Grateful Dead song will leave your soul screaming for more.

You will find the venue itself to be enticing in its own right, beguiling to jam band minded folks with its acoustics and aesthetics. A plethora of craft beer is on tap to boot, appealing to every personal penchant under the sun. Yet if insanity is abounding, and the music nor brews are doing it for you, all the free pizza your tummy could desire is on hand too. Thursday night’s scene provides something for everyone, and at the reasonable fifteen-dollar price of entry (comparable to a pack of smokes in Manhattan), you’re “bound to cover just a little more ground,” and get your monies worth and then some.

This band is a jewel in the rough, a diamond yet to be mined. For the few in the know, they keep coming back for more, yet now it’s your time to get in on this right stuff. Head to American Beauty on Thursday, and share in the groove with David Bryan & Friends. As I personally vouch for the versatile virtue of this crew of exemplary players, feel free to track me down and rough me up if I’ve mislead you in anyway.

PS- Please listen to one or all of these videos below (lineups vary), and you will see what I’m talking about…when you’re done, click on the Facebook event link below, RSVP, and find all the pertinent details…

© Stand For Jam, 2017.

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Wilson, We Have A Problem: Ruminations on the Rumble at Dick’s – It’s Only a Symptom

by Russell S. Glowatz

Last night Phish made their long-awaited return to Dick’s Sporting Goods park for their 7th annual showcase in the storied Rocky Mountain venue, and while the scene was generally vibrant, some bad juju was simmering just below the surface. During set break, and in clear view of all those watching the LivePhish webcast, a fairly ferocious fight broke out at the front of the floor. While the details are hairy, one thing is abundantly clear; this type of behavior has no place at a Phish show and simply serves to threaten the good-natured, good-vibed,  general goodness that our scene regularly manifests.

Speculation is rampant on the interweb, yet no one but those directly involved, and in the immediate periphery, truly knows what went down. Did a dude hit too hard on someone else’s girl? Was an accidental spill of a beer on someone’s heady threads the impetus for this knock down? The consensus says no, and that this tussle had everything to do with someone getting in another’s claimed space. 

Straight up, at a general admission show, no one has claimed space. That’s simply the nature of general admission. Sure, you can lock down a spot, perhaps hold it down with a small towel or blanket, for a friend or two, while waiting for the festivities to begin. Happily, Phish management has quashed the tarping fiasco prevalent at the outset of summer tour by banning tarps altogether (Tarps are banned at Dick’s, right?!). Yet still, up front at these shows, a general essence of anxiety and entitlement remains when it comes to space.

The words “entitlement” and “Phish” should never be used in the same sentence. Ever. But here we are. There is a growing sense of privilege in placement in general admission environments, and the smell of douchebaggery is wafting widely over the whole scene. If you enter early into a show to lock down one of those coveted upfront spots, all the power to ya! Yet if you walk away for a piss break, a beer run, or whatever else, there’s no guarantee that spot will be waiting upon return. Usually in such circumstances, folks in the area (maybe your friends!) will remember you, and make way to welcome you back into the fold. Yet if that’s not possible, use your words, not your fists to rectify the problem. And the option always exists to find another spot too; sometimes a change in view, mid-show, is just what the doctor ordered.

If you were on hippie time prior to your arrival on the floor, and the front is already packed to the rafters, you are not entitled to smash your way through the crowd. Getting up in phans faces in order to find a better vantage point is the epitome of disrespect, a disrespect for the time those folks kept their asses planted for sometimes upwards of an hour before show time. There’s so many freewheeling, dance friendly, sound solid, spots towards the back and the wings; find one of those and be grateful you’re on the floor for the greatest show on earth. Since no one is entitled in general admission, you might even find an opportunity to better position yourself for set two.

A message to the rail riders: I watched you closely during The Bakers Dozen, and you kids throw down like Chinatown on Mao Tse Tung’s birthday. I’m super impressed with your exuberance and vigor, yet I’m a little unsure of how that whole process works. Is there some type of bracelet system where you wait online all night to get dibs on first entry? You folks obviously commit a massive amount of time and energy to lock down those golden spots. I respect the dedication. Do you wear diapers to get through that epic wait? Not since Moses hurriedly led the Exodus out of Egypt have folks committed to such a tumultuous trial for a face melting payoff! Is the rail truly the land of milk and honey?! I’ve never had the pleasure myself, and odds are it’ll never happen as the number line keeps ticking forward, but it’d be phantastic to have that opportunity, just once.

However, I digress…Lately, there’s a sourness spreading around about your sub-scene as well. Stories are abound that folks pay squatters to wait in the rail line all day, while the ultimate rail rider goes about other pre-show business. That sounds a bit Machiavellian to me, and the preferred philosopher of mobsters (truth!) really has no place at a Phish show. If your aim is early entry, you damn well sit in the trenches with your fellow Phans, and that way the juice will be that much tastier as you personally took the time to squeeze. The ends should never justify the means at a Phish show. How you go about achieving your goals is as karmically as important as whether Trey is in spitting distance once the show begins.

As a fan base, it seems high time we have a scene wide discussion about general admission etiquette going forward. While the tarper memes and joke cracking is hilarious, I’m beginning to think it’s exacerbating the situation at hand. By and large, Phans do it right. We use our words, tact, common sense, and apply a mutual respect towards each other that usually leaves the scene as harmonious as ever. Yet with Phish playing less shows than they used to, and the fan base simultaneously expanding, a recipe for disaster is formulating, and it might just manifest a gumbo of catastrophe on the horizon. Stoking a respectful and mindful conversation about these issues might very well lead to some steam being released from the pressure valve. And I know the band is peripherally aware of Phan discussions on the net as well, so perhaps they’ll come up with some mindful solutions too.

Generally, it comes down to common sense, a mutual respect with our fellow Phans, communication with words, not just body language, and the golden rule. Do unto others, as you wish them to do unto you…or something like that. You get the gist. That Jesus cat dropped some timeless bombs of wisdom.

So, this frenetic fight caught on LivePhish last night was merely a symptom of a larger problem. A dilemma we can easily deal with as a conscientious community of committed Phans. The question we should all be asking ourselves is, do we want to be like Bassnectar fans? Do we want the reputation of resorting to sheer disrespect and violence to lock down our spot next to the band? Do we want the Phish scene to devolve into the chaos of the latter days of the Grateful Dead? Me thinks not. The Phan community is of equal importance in this guy’s eyes to the band itself. You are who makes this scene so serene, magnificent, and marvelous, while Phish provides the celestial soundtrack. It’s “so stupendous, living in this tube!”

 

© Stand For Jam, 2017.
 
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🤔 fighting at Phish!? I don’t like this.. #phish #phishdicks

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These Cats Are The Real Deal: Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band w/ Melvin Seals & Nicki Bluhm – Central Park SummerStage – 8/30/2017 (Review, Videos, Setlist)

by Russell S. Glowatz

There ain’t nothing like a Phil show at Central Park. When the weather is airy and light, the scene is right, and the music is tight. All sources of serene sonic sorcery combine to manifest a sublime state of serendipity. The bucolic surroundings alone are a rare respite in a city of steel and smut. Add a heaping spoonful of Deadheads, a dollop of Phil Lesh, a sprinkling of The Terrapin Family Band, a dash of Melvin Seals, and a pinch of Nicki Bluhm, you have yourself a recipe for psychedelic communion at the Church of Grateful Dead.

Traversing what could be termed as “Shakedown Rock,” a geologic grouping of boulders outside SummerStage central, Deadheads’ can be found cavorting, carousing, communing, and commercing. A handful of vendors are selling heady handmade goods. Others are reuniting with old cohorts, and mingling with new friends alike. Some folks are sipping on craft brews, or eating homemade sandwiches before the main event commences. There is no lot, nor a typical shakedown, but Central Park makes for a pregame of perfection. One with nature, attune with the chime of the leaves in the breeze, there’s not many better places to take in the show before the show than the placid pastures outside Rumsey Playfield.

Such an enchanting encampment, loosens the soul from the grime of the daily grind. So once entering the venue, many Deadheads find themselves appropriately apart from the maddening melancholia of modern day materialism. We find ourselves removed from our ragged runarounds, primed and ready to escape inside the symphony set before us.

As was advertised, we are met with a set of Jerry Garcia Band tunes to open the evening. We are no longer “Tangled Up In Blue” as this euphonious ensemble tears through the Bob Dylan original, and JGB staple. “How Sweet It Is” to dance in the setting summer sun, as Nicki Bluhm soars through this peppy rendition on vocal lead.  Soon we find ourselves half passed 7:00pm, but it’s “After Midnight” in the daylight as Ross James & Grahame Lesh trade licks on J.J. Cale’s classic with vigor and grit. Throughout the entirety of the JGB segment, Melvin Seals serves as our rock, channeling the soul of Jerry and his old side project, tenaciously with his trigger finger on his Hammond B-3 organ. Jason Crosby serves as his worthy counterpart on the keys with effortless execution.

As set one moves us brightly, set two lights the fire under our ass. From Phil’s opening bass bomb, love is shakin’ on “Shakedown Street;” a simple poke around proves it to be true. “The Music Never Stopped,” and while singing and romancing, it’s evident we’re all “Playing In The Band.” On drums, Alex Koford is our engine, driving this collective train, as we’re “bound to cover just a little more ground.” We traverse through the “transitive nightfall of diamonds,” before walking out in that sweet sweet “Morning Dew.” Not a single soul around fails to “Turn On [Their] Lovelight” as the music plays the band, and the band plays us. Wrapping up our psychedelic parkscapade, shakin’ like “Sugaree” at a jaunty jubilee, one cannot help but exude profound gratitude and incalculable thankfulness.

At 77 years young, Philip Chapman Lesh continues to defy expectations and boundaries with a musical troupe that’s currently playing some of the best live Grateful Dead music out there. It seems he’s relying more heavily on The Terrapin Family Band as of late, as this group’s congruous chops shine brightly wherever they choose to throw down. There is something to be said about a band, a true band of brothers (and sometimes sister) that regularly plays together. The camaraderie of this company of players is palpable at every single performance, and it reflects in the harmonious, out of the box, mind fuck music they create. This is not a cover band, nor a nostalgia act. These cats are the real deal, and if you have yet had the opportunity to catch them live, get on that shit. Stat!

 

“Second That Emotion”

“The Music Never Stopped”
“Estimated Prophet”
Set I:
Tangled Up in Blue
They Love Each Other
How Sweet It Is
Mission In The Rain
Reuben & Cherise
Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
Second That Emotion
After Midnight

Set II:
Shakedown Street
Music Never Stopped
Estimated Prophet
Galilee
Playing in the Band
The Wheel
Dark Star
Morning Dew
Dark Star
St Stephen
Love Light

Encore:
Donor Rap
Sugaree

© Stand For Jam, 2017.
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Leaked!!! PHISH New Years Stunt 2017: Maybe So and Maybe Not

EXCLUSIVE: An anonymous source, from the upper echelons in Phish camp, leaked an early draft of the 2017 New Years Stunt! Between you and I, all signs point to Mike's Lipstick Tech as the culprit...

graphic credit: @tricecat (Instagram)

Set Opens:

  • Stage is dark, spotlight appears on Page already at his keys. He’s in a black suit jacket, tie & blue jeans (dressed familiar, like someone we love to loathe)…
  • Page opens Prelude/Angry Young Man*…
  • Crowd goes wild, with a few intermittent boos, woos, and hisses…
  • Song proceeds passed intro, with Page on vocals, and lights rise to reveal the rest of the band as they dive deep, reimagining the tune as their own…
  • Mid Prelude-jam, a troupe of dancing mechanics in blue collar jumpsuits (led by a Christie Brinkley impersonator – think Uptown Girl music video circa 1983) walk out from stage left to take positions on risers behind, and in front of the band. They begin to do a broadway style dance while singing verses from the song (Trey inserts Allentown teases). More angry young blue collar mechanics are lowered from the ceiling, completing epic acrobatic stunts while joining in song…
  • This Broadwayesque spectacle continues for a moment, when all of a sudden, what appears to be a drunken disheveled man (dressed in a Jon Fishman muumuu) stumbles in from side stage…
  • He begins to sing the “Stop right there! I gotta know right now! Before we go any further! Do you love me?” verse from Meatloaf’s “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”…
  • Security is in hot pursuit (circa Naked Guy Out Of Control 2009) but Trey waves them off…its Billy Joel!
  • Billy’s medley is interrupted when Fish suggests they all let bygones be bygones
  • Billy heads over to the keys, and joins Page on “Army Of One%.” The Chairmen Of The Boards duel on vocal verses and keyboard riffs…
  • Billy clearly bests Page in this jaunt, and the crowd boos in disapproval. Page leaves the stage in shame, while the rest of the band joins with Billy to complete “Army Of One.”…
  • Trey incorporates We Didn’t Start The Fire references, while taking the song deep into type II territory. Billy Joel now seems in over his head…
  • Page miraculously reappears strapped with a keytar as the type II jam peaks in blissful terrain…
  • Page drops a keytar bomb of such magnitude, it rattles the Garden, and knocks Billy Joel off his feet…
  • New years countdown begins (10, 9, 8…)
  • Joel is taken offstage in a stretcher by paramedics in the midst of Auld Lang Syne…
  • Phans’ rejoice and the band launches into an unprecedented up tempo Billy Breathes+…
  • Incorporates Allentown teases, w/ Angry Young Man lyrics…
  • Billy Breathes segues into Goodnight Saigon#>Allentown#>Goodnight Saigon>Pressure@>2001…
  • At this point, Billy Joel busts back on stage in a hospital gown, and his mask is quickly torn off by security…it was really CK5 the entire time!
  • CK5 exclaims “I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you meddling phans!”
  • ENCORE: Character Zero^

*   – Phish debut, with Allentown teases by Trey
% – We Didn’t Start The Fire references by Trey
+  – Allentown tease with Angry Young Man lyrics
#  – Phish debut
@ – Phish debut, unfinished, with a Moma Dance jam
^  – During Character Zero, Mike teases Scooby Doo, Where Are You? theme song

  • Prelude/Angry Young Man featured a dancing troupe of acrobatic mechanics led by a Christie Brinkley impersonator
Phantasy Stunt by Russell S. Glowatz

© Stand For Jam, 2017.

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Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife: The Phish Is Coming To Town 

by Russell S. Glowatz

The majestic moment of magnificent bliss we’ve all been waiting for, the bombastic blockbuster of the summer, highly anticipated by Phans across the planet, is finally upon us. TODAY! In a short few hours, the epic 13-day residency by Phish at Madison Square Garden will commence. If the five show dress rehearsal that took place in Chicago, Dayton, and Pittsburgh, is any guide, we are in for an epic treat come Friday evening. All speculation points towards the Baker’s Dozen finding a high regarded place in Phishtory. The unique residential nature of the run at an indoor venue in the summertime has already been the talk of the town for quite some time. Since night one of Northerly Island, we’ve been collectively drooling over CK5’s massively mobile lighting rig. And if the boys deliver, which they certainly will on many, if not all nights of the run, we’re in for a spectacular exhibition in musical madness and psychedelic sorcery.

While the saying, “we are everywhere,” remains potently true in most corners of the planet, the phrase will take on new form over the next two weeks, as Phans from all throughout the world, of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds, will flock to the Big Apple in joyous delight. As each night’s Phishy extravaganza will only take up a fraction of our day, we’ll have lots of time to explore what the greatest city on Earth has to offer. Phans will be in coffee shops, pizza places, movie theatres, yoga studios, parks, museums, bars, hotels, massage parlors, restaurants, on the tops of skyscrapers (because they are grand after all), etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Even an avid Phish Head chiropractor is offering special rates on adjustments for Phans in need all throughout the Dozen. As we traverse the city formerly known as New Amsterdam, wave that phreak flag wide and high. Let us know who you are, and if you’re not a #TarpNazi, chances are we’ll get along famously. New phriendships will manifest, new relationships formed. Maybe you’ll meet the future love of your life?! With the greatest spectacle known to mankind laying down roots in the finest city on this side of the Milky Way, anything is possible. In this time of the season, the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, Phish and New York City will throw down like never before.


There will be countless Phish-related events to check out, from pre-show booze cruises (see you at DeadPhishOrchestra!), to post-show late night euphonious extravaganzas. There will be kid oriented Phish cover bands playing (you don’t really need to hide your kids, or wives for that matter! The more the merrier!!!), and Phish-themed spin classes are very much a thing too! Where better to detox fresh for next night’s rowdy rager?! American Beauty, a bar and music venue down the block from MSG will be holding an inside shakedown of sorts, where you can find those goodies, from food, crafts, and beyond, that you’d normally seek out in summertime lots. Long story short, there’s something for everyone out there, even the most phinicky Phan can take pleasure.


When they say they circus is coming to town, they weren’t shitting you. The everyday earthlings might confront confusion when crossing through our scene outside MSG and beyond, but by and large our kind community will treat those bystanders with love and affection, and maybe even encourage a few to let loose and get down. This ain’t no fucking Barnum & Bailey. No animals were harmed in the making of this extravaganza! Maybe some braincells were lost, but the sacrifice is minute, paralleled with the payoff. We are a beautiful people! Except the Tarpers of course, who should leave their giant plastic sheets in their hotel rooms. Feel free to tarp your hotel bed, or build a sweet fort while you’re at it, but keep those synthetic monstrosities far away from the floor at MSG. Phans barely tolerate you as is, and I highly doubt MSG staff will be sympathetic to your cause to lock down a 30 by 30 space for you and your fifteen closest imaginary friends. You’ve taken much heat over the last week, Tarpers, but you really deserved it all. Yet you are Phans, which implies you might just be intelligent. Please take a clue and leave your pool covers and rolls of duct tape at home. Remember: “the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” Don’t be douchebags. It’s a simple request.

So in the end, I wrote this little piece in haste because I felt the need to put something on paper before we ascend into our psychedelic Phish-hole. Usually I take an inordinate amount of time to edit and proofread the drivel I publish, because it has my name on it, and I tend to be a maniacal about things I hold near and dear. Perhaps I’ve said nothing new here, or maybe you picked up a gem of inspiration that’ll be useful for your jovial journey into the imminent metropolitan musical mayhem. If you’re interested in any of the countless Phish-themed events taking place over the next weeks, please hit google to find out the details, or better yet, Facebook (I’d link you myself, but I’m too busy getting ready for the Dozen!).To say I’m psyched for this 13 show rodeo to commence, is the understatement of the millennium. This will be the highlight of my summer, as I’m sure is the case for many. While some of us will find ourselves with enough wind at our backs to scarf down all 13 shows, others will take what we can get and make the most of our experience. Cashing in on the goodness of our circumstance is always the aim. So as you traverse these great United States on your voyage to the city that never sleeps, please drive safe and take it slow. Once you’re here, I pray you rage to your heart’s desire, but please rage responsibly. Look out for yourselves. Hydration, hydration, hydration! And pay mind to your neighbors whether you personally know them or not. Let’s take mind of each other and be the big happy phamily we’re meant to be. If you perceive something as wrong, please speak up. If you think a phan is in trouble, please ask them if they’re alright. The worst that might happen is a silly misunderstanding. The best result could be one’s rescue from undesirable elements, and saving a stranger from years of trauma. Common sense pholks…it goes a super long way. We have the ability to police ourselves when need be, by merely speaking up. Posting a picture of a perceived wrong to Facebook will not solve the problem. Open your minds and hearts to your neighbors, and use your words people, not your smartphone cameras. Positivity will reign freely if we just let common sense be our guide. We don’t need no stinking badges! We can police ourselves with minimal intrusion, and for the rest of the time: live and let live! Peace, love, and Phish. Our trip is short…see you soon 🙂

© Watts Glow Grateful Productions, 2017.

 
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Qualifications For A Deadhead: An Open Letter To The Tribe 

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by Russell S. Glowatz

Our traveling circus has been traversing the world, converting novice initiates into dedicated disciples, going on 52 years now. The Grateful Dead and its psychedelic rodeo have been at the forefront of this phenomenon, organically amassing the most ardent assembly of apostles in modern history. Father to son, mother to daughter, sibling to sibling, colleague to colleague, and friend to friend, one turned on to this wonderful world via an apprenticeship of sorts. A passing of a tape, vinyl record, or CD, and nowadays, a FLAC, or a YouTube link, aroused the senses early on, planting seeds of devotion that for many would blossom into full on immersion. Heading to a show, whether Grateful Dead in the glory days, or an offshoot band in the present, was a rite of passage, a graduation day of sorts, where one experienced the full measure of what this eccentric scene has to offer. If you’re reading this, you likely never looked back, and have self-identified as a bona fide Deadhead ever since. Whether you had that first life altering Grateful Dead adventure in ’65, 2017, or in between, the only qualification for a Deadhead is an appreciation for the music of the Grateful Dead, period. You alone define your level of devotion, and never let anyone convince you otherwise.

Lately it occurs to me that the age-old conflict, of what makes one a Deadhead, has reemerged on the information super shakedown in epic proportions. In Grateful Dead community groups across Facebook, the battle usually centers around whether or not one saw Jerry play in the flesh, and if bearing witness is an essential prerequisite for a Deadhead. A version of this argument has existed in one form or another since 1973, when Pigpen checked out. It more or less centers around whether one saw the band in its true form, and has the war stories to prove it. The Keith/Donna generation took shit from the Pig generation, and some Godchaux-era initiates wouldn’t hesitate to brand the Brent-era Deadheads as inauthentic. Then the “Touchheads,” arriving after the critical success of “In The Dark,” experienced the brunt of this thinking from the late eighties until Jerry’s demise. In present time, its post-Jerry Deadheads feeling the heat, and in a decade or two, post-Core Four Deadheads will confront this same travesty of thinking.

There is a noticeable ebb and flow, yet presently this perpetual conflict is galloping full steam ahead. In most of the GD Facebook enclaves, diatribes questioning the legitimacy of post-Jerry Deadheads have once again become par for the course. As our community continues to expand its younger ranks, many youngins pop on these Facebook groups to find community, support, and advice as they explore the slippery slopes of the Deadosphere. Often they meet negativity and vitriol at the door. Why, you might ask, after coming off the highs of  the best Dead & Company tour to date, would such a negative vibe be permeating the virtual realm of our scene? Perhaps, in part, this trend continues because the internet often appeals to our base instincts. But the reason is less important than the reality that Deadhead trolling is a nuisance.

So to the Deadhead that finds the need to promote contempt for youngins on the web, maybe take a moment to remember why we’re all here. Our obsession with the music of the Grateful Dead is at the forefront, and our mutually tacit belief in karma and kindness guides us through this trip. An abundance of post-Jerry heads abide by these same ideals. Empathy is key here. Remember when you were green? Do you recollect that first time on lot looking for a ticket, when that tour vet taught you the magic of waving a pointer finger high? Recall that time when the kind older head gifted you a miracle, that night you got your first “Morning Dew!?”  We were all young once, and without schooling from those that came before us, we’d be left ignorant, acting a fool, sucking balloons in the lot, not realizing the main event lies only feet away. Perhaps the next time you feel the urge to vent about the cluelessness of the younger generation at large, put yourself in their shoes for a minute, and if what you got serves nothing but to stroke your own ego, please keep that garbage to yourself. Yet if you find your able to take a constructive spin on things, please educate, for without it, we’d all be lost.

IMG_0272To younger Deadheads that feel less than for coming of age after the death of Jerry Garcia, do not let a disgruntled minority of jaded old timers discourage you from delving deeper down the grateful rabbit hole. You may have missed the Captain, but this ship of fools still sails smoothly, and there’s plenty of room onboard. You were not born at the wrong time. The scene today is as vibrant as ever, and we are supremely fortunate to participate. The Core Four is alive and well, still spreading the gospel, recruiting new talent, to bring us the most authentic and energized live music experiences they can. The jam band scene at large is in a golden age. Countless innovatively improvisational acts are popping up daily, and in the spirit of the Grateful Dead, they constantly push boundaries and take this thing of ours to the limit. We are supremely fortunate, and never let anyone else convince you otherwise.

Maybe we all could take a step back and embrace the clarity that such distance brings. Whether on the internet, or in person, lets aim to love each other, and let our words reflect that love. Let us be critical too, for we are Deadheads after all, but let that criticism come from a place of constructiveness. Let’s be grateful that the music will not stop with us, but live on in the souls of the coming dawn. Let’s open our hearts and minds to the next generations, and school them as humbly as we can. Respect is a two-way street. If we aim to help the newbies assimilate, as opposed to delegitimizing their existence, we’d serve ourselves by nurturing a mindful, respectful, and humble new class of Deadheads. The Grateful Dead world remains in its infancy. Our big bang happened only 52 years ago, and our universe is ever-expanding. Let’s be the best possible ambassadors to tomorrow, and if we strive towards this goal, we will engender a mutual respect with our Deadhead descendants.

Our past is storied, and our present is bright. With the faith and fortitude of thousands, our community blossomed organically, yet was built to last. Collectively we’ve persevered through the perils of a half century, and confidence is high that Deadheads, in large gatherings and small, will one day celebrate our centennial with the same serene spirit that embodied Fare Thee Well. Budding Deadheads are listening to the music play for the first time, right in this moment. Not even a twinkle in their mama’s eye, prospective Deadheads have yet to see the light of day. We must welcome these folks, with open arms, for they are our future. We must show them the ropes, and school them with a spirit of equality. We must remind them that there’s no requirement for membership, except an appreciation for Grateful Dead tunes; you are what you say you are. If anyone ever tells you otherwise, feel free to point them towards this article (or THIS). Going forward, as karma guides you, let kindness be your watchword, and may the four winds blow you safely home.

© Watts Glow Grateful Productions, 2017.

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Freekbass Talks ‘The Band Is Bond’ Before Its Brooklyn Bowl Launch

Since the early days of movie projection, prior to the advent of “Talkies,” music has been irrevocably fused with film. Some soundtracks have served to move us more brightly than others, as is the case with the James Bond franchise, and its accompanying music that has spanned six decades and counting. With such a bountiful collection of themes and title tracks, it only took a little inspiration to send self-described James Bond junkie and bassist extraordinaire, Freekbass, off running with a project solely dedicated to recreating and expanding upon the James Bond musical universe. The Band is Bond, a brand new ensemble, aims to harmoniously transport us into the secret agents world with a dash of thrill, intrigue, and improvisation.

For their inaugural show at the Brooklyn Bowl on February 16th, Freekbass has assembled a stellar troupe of players that are uniquely inclined to tackle the Bond catalog with vigor and grit. The genre spanning group largely resides near Freek’s home base of Cincinnati, and with the core of the group bounded by geography, these purveyors of song have put rehearsal on the front burner, tackling the vast Bond catalog whenever time will allow. This attention to detail will make for a confident showing as The Band Is Bond hits the storied Brooklyn Bowl stage mid-February.

Freek’s first recruit was Jennifer Hartswick, who serves as a beyond perfect fit, chiming in on those female heavy vocal leads that are the signature to many a Bond theme, while providing that essential brass boost on trumpet. Next Freekbass called upon Razor Sharp Johnson, of Bootsy’s Rubberband, and P-Funk fame, to man the keys. The Band rounds out with one of Freek’s friends and collaborators, Jyn Yates on drums, Nicholas Gerlach (Turbo Suit) playing the Tenor Sax, and TSLY, occasional Freekbass coconspirator, on guitar. The Band Is Bond’s spiritual player, is Ken “Big Bamn” Smith, Freekbass’ longtime drummer and confidante, who tragically passed away in an automobile accident earlier this year. Bamn provided direction for The Band at its inception and was slated as the original drummer. Surely he will be on everyone’s mind at the BK Bowl performance.

Prior to this first show, Freekbass was kind enough to take some time to talk The Band Is Bond, the inspiration behind its name, and losing Bamn. After reading the interview, make sure to click the link at the bottom, and get your tickets to The Band Is Bond at the Brooklyn Bowl on February 16th. And don’t forget to “dress to kill” as Bond themed regalia is highly recommended!

_______________

Russ Glowatz (RG): First off, let me offer my condolences to you over the loss of Big Bamn.

Freekbass: It was a shocker man. I’m starting to finally get my head a little bit above water. We’re on the road traveling in dangerous conditions all the time, so the most ironic part is it happened when we were home. He was such an amazing cat. As tight as we were onstage, we were offstage, so I really appreciate your sentiments.

RG: This past month has really been something else in respect to the passing of legendary musicians. 

Freekbass: Oh yeah I know man. 2016, especially January. I’m glad it’s February, hoping this month is a bit better.

RG: You’ve previously mentioned that you considered Bamn a brother. How did that tight relationship reflect upon the music you both made together?

Freekbass: Bass players and drummers always have that special relationship anyway, because of the fact that we’re kind of in the rhythm world together, but him and I especially. Our families would hang out together off the road. I grew up as an only child, and as musicians we have a tendency to put walls around ourselves a little bit, and as an only child that adds to it. And Bamn was one of the first people that I fully fully trusted. He was one-hundred percent real.

When someone’s really close, and you go on the road with them for a little while, once in a while you start to see a little chink in the armor, and you’re like “oh, okay.” But everything about [Bamn] was so genuine, and I feel like I could really trust him with anything, my whole life. Even when I sit here and talk about it, it almost gets me choked up, because in some ways I don’t let myself get too close to people, and he was one of these people I did.

He pushed me too a lot. He pushed me to be better, and look higher, and anytime I’d say to him “that we’re gonna do this, this year,” he’d want to take it to a higher level. He’s a real special person, and David Bowie’s got one heck of a drummer up there in heaven right now.

RG: Without a doubt. And I’m sure you’re going to take with you the sentiment of “What would Bamn do” as you go forward. 

Freekbass: That’s it! Even as I’m putting together my new band right now, he’s totally in my mind, that I’m really gonna take it to another level with him in mind.

RG: Focusing on the new project, it’s really heartening to see you push forward with the Brooklyn Bowl show that’s coming up on February 16th. I imagine Bamn wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. So with that, what was the spark that inspired the creation of The Band Is Bond? 

Freekbass: I’ve always been a huge James Bond fan since I’ve been a kid. I’ve always been enchanted by the the gadgets, the storylines, and the music. Especially the older James Bond movies, the ones from the sixties. That first time period, that whole kind of Mad Men, skinny ties, and Art Deco looking era. And what kind of spawned it, I was actually listening to Pandora and a James Bond tune came on, and I thought “man, it’d be really cool to redo these songs.”

And with the James Bond thing too, my mom likes James Bond, my grandma likes James Bond, kids that are fifteen, sixteen years old like James Bond, so it really spans so many generations. It’s not just in a timeframe. I think the first James Bond movie came out in ’63, and they just had a brand new one that came out this year, and I think that’s because of the timeless aspect of it. You have such a timeless character, and the music is so timeless as well, so I thought it’d be a really cool idea to interpret those songs.

Not twenty minutes later I called up Jennifer Hartswick. She was really into it. And especially to have a female singer, since so much of the soundtrack has female vocals for a good chunk of the music, she was the first person I thought of, because she’s one that can handle those kind of vocals. And that’s how everything kind of started, and then we started putting musicians together, and here we are today.RG: While delving into the different decades and eras of Bond, I’ve noticed that the music always has this contemporary appeal, yet it simultaneously is paying homage to a sound that’s completely authentic to the James Bond universe. The sound is wholly unique, and whether the music came from the 60’s or the modern era, it’s being tapped into. How would you characterize that sound?

Freekbass: Right. And that goes back to the timeless thing I was talking about when the idea of the band came together, because whether it’s the song that Adele does in Skyfall, or going all the way back to Goldfinger with Shirley Bassey in 1964, you could almost replace those songs in either era and they would work. There’s harmonic things that show up in every era. You know the original James Bond theme, from Dr. No, which is the one everybody knows about, has a kind of treble-ized guitar sound. That kind of harmonic structure, you’ll hear it in all the songs, they kind of stick those into every theme song. That half-step, kind of semi-dissonant, definitely that early 1960’s spy movie mentality thing, even if you’re doing a ballad, or more of a rock tune, they kind of have that sensibility about them. And again, just like you said, there’s this bridge between times.

There’s a few exceptions that stand out. There’s one of the songs we’re doing from The Spy Who Loved Me by Carly Simon, and that’s almost like a seventies soft rock song, which is different. But the majority of the sound [fits that sensibility], even “Live And Let Die” by Paul McCartney, that’s another one we’ll be doing, I think, at the Brooklyn Bowl, is such a sick song, and a lot of people don’t think that’s a James Bond theme song. Everyone knows that’s a Paul McCartney song, but it’s actually a theme song from the movie.

So ideally what we’d like to do is get a bunch of shows under our belt, do some festival dates, and then put out an album of original songs influenced by the James Bond soundtrack. And a pie in the sky thought is to have The Band Is Bond actually do the theme for one of the James Bond movies in the future. That would be a long long term goal. You never know what happens when you put something out in the universe.

RG: That’s a wonderful goal. You guys are reaching for the stars on that one, and based upon your collective abilities, it’s totally possible. 

Freekbass: I’m sure there’s a lot of politics and stuff involved with that kind of thing, but in paying homage to such a great library of music, hopefully some people that are involved in that world might like what we’re doing.

RG: There can be a fine line between replication and reinvention. In covering songs from the Bond canon, how will you skirt that line going forward. I’ve listened to “You Only Live Twice,” your rendition of Nancy Sinatra’s original, and while it seems The Band Is Bond stayed more or less true to form with that song, I imagine you may let loose on other things. 

Freekbass: Definitely. We’re kinda walking that tight rope with that too because with a song like “You Only Live Twice” we kind of played with some ideas in the studio, but that one felt so conducive to just represent it similar to the way it was. But for a good chunk of these songs, when we’re rehearsing they’re already taking on a new personality with all the players we have involved. We thought about getting in the studio immediately and trying to do a bunch of tracks at once, but then we thought, “hey, let’s get some shows under our belt first…like six months from now, these songs may have a whole different sound.” Definitely the idea is to stretch these songs out and try to let everybody give their personality to them, there’s no doubt about that. You’re gonna see a lot of that on the debut night at the Brooklyn Bowl.

RG: Looking forward to it. I will be there will bells on! I don’t know if I’m going to have a Bond costume though. I gotta think about that. 

Freekbass: Yeah! That’s another cool thing about that show. It’s not just for the band, but we’ll be able to create this whole world for the audience too.

RG: Audience involvement absolutely gets that whole synchronous vibe going, having everyone show up in their favorite Bond getup. Now, to round this out, what’s your favorite Bond movie, if you could name one?

Freekbass: Up until last year I would’ve said Goldfinger hands down. Sean Connery. But man, Skyfall was so good. That rivaled. I was a little nervous when they hired Daniel Craig as the new Bond, but I’ll tell you what, he has really taken it to another level. It’s almost like how when they redid the Batman series over the last few years and went a darker route with it. Because James Bond, he’s essentially an assassin, and Daniel Craig really plays up that side of it, and the writing of Skyfall was so good. So if you held me down I’d say Goldfinger, but man, Skyfall is a darn near close second, if not a tie.

RG: Lastly, unrelated to James Bond, what makes you tick? What’s that driving force that gets you out of bed each morning to do what you do, and to do it so well? 

Freekbass: Without sounding cliché, just the music. Whatever projects I’m involved with, whether it be The Band Is Bond, my own group, or others. I have a side group with DJ Logic, and Steve Molitz called Headtronics that we do sometimes, and it’s always about that. That’s definitely the inspiration to get up and do it. Because you have good shows, and bad shows, you have a lot of traveling. The stage part looks glamorous, but half the time your at gas stations drinking bad coffee. The music is the one stabilizing force that will get you through each day and get you to the next gig for sure.

RG: Thanks so much for your time Freek! Super psyched about the Brooklyn Bowl show on 2/16, and for everything you and The Band Is Bond does down the line as well!

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>>>Follow this link to grab your tickets to The Band Is Bond‘s inaugural live performance at the Brooklyn Bowl on Tuesday, February 16th.<<<

>>To keep up with The Band Is Bond (news, tour dates, media, etc.) head to their Facebook page here.<<

>Stay tuned on all of Freekbass’ projects at his website.<

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Introduction & Questions by Russell S. Glowatz